As little as five years ago, when Good With Money was founded, ethics and money were not - except for a motivated minority - considered as bedfellows. Rather, they were viewed as contradictory objectives.
Until much more recently, providers that have an ethical and sustainable approach at heart were few and far between. Most people bought financial products and services based on the pounds and pence cost to themselves, not any wider cost to the world.
With profit the only priority, banks and other providers could use huge chunks of their customers’ money to fund industries that harm the planet and society such as fossil fuels, mining and tobacco - usually without the people it belongs to even knowing.
The world has been changing at a rapid pace. Even before the global pandemic, consumers were beginning to demand more evidence of sustainability, social purpose and general good behaviour from the companies behind the products they buy.
In 2017, David Attenborough’s Blue Planet II woke the world up to the plastic problem and a year later Greta Thunberg started the school climate strikes. Environmental concern quickly moved from the sidelines to the mainstream.
In 2020, awareness of the connection between our personal finances and the issues we care about grew significantly. This was in part thanks to Richard Curtis’s Make My Money Matter campaign and work by the consumer awareness group Good Money Week, but also because of increasing evidence of climate change - with wildfires in Australia and the US - and the spread of Covid-19.
Putting your money to work sustainably is also no longer widely seen as being at odds with getting a good deal or making a profit on an investment - the opposite is increasingly proving to be true.
An increasing desire to do good with money
Good With Money’s readership has grown exponentially alongside these changes, reflecting an increasing desire from people to make conscious choices about where they put their money.
This includes where their banks invest their pay and savings, where their pensions are invested, where they borrow from and where they pay their insurance premiums.
The merit of a financial product is no longer just whether it is the best value for money, or offers the highest return; it is also in its impact in the wider world. There is a growing thirst for reliable information on this third aspect of our money - its power to bring about positive change.
The need for an independent rating
This has been met by a flurry of new positive impact apps and investment platforms as well as a shift in focus by established financial services providers to beef up their green credentials.
The rise in both supply and demand for ‘ethical’ consumer finance means there has never been more need for a reliable and independent rating of the companies in this increasingly crowded - and confusing - space.
This is where the Good Egg mark comes in.
Who can be a ‘Good Egg’?
The Good Egg mark makes it easy for consumers to find a good deal for the planet and society, as well as their pocket, when choosing where to invest, save, borrow or bank. It is only awarded to companies that can prove they make a positive difference to the planet and society, as well as their customers and staff.
Impact is rated across three key areas; environmental, social, and industry/consumer, taking into account the size and history of the firm and its performance. Applications are assessed by specialist consultancy Ethical Screening, which puts together a detailed report.
This is then reviewed by a panel of industry experts - including Charlene Cranny, former director of Good Money Week and founder of Economy of Good, John Fleetwood of 3D Investing (now part of Square Mile) and Fionn Travers-Smith, former project manager for Move Your Money - before a final decision is made. All the findings are available for consumers to see.
Charlene says: “The question I am increasingly asked is ‘where do I start if I want to use my money for good?’ Then ‘how do I know which providers are genuine?’ With so many new claims of ‘green’, ‘ethical’ or ‘impact’ we must help to direct people to the real deal.
“This requires an independent assessment by people who know how to cut through the noise and point straight to the leaders. Which is - as an advocate for good money - why I am so happy to back the Good Egg. I can’t wait to see it stamped on even more companies going above and beyond for people, planet and our pockets.”
Which companies have been awarded a Good Egg?
There are currently six Good Egg mark firms. These are Triodos Bank, Ecology Building Society, ethical finance advisors EQ Investors, wealth managers Pennine Wealth Solutions, clean energy investment firm Thrive Renewables and ethical investment platform Abundance Investment.
You can find out more about the criteria Good Egg firms must meet here.
About Good With Money
Good With Money publishes articles and reviews on a range of sustainable and ethical money-related topics and products. It has a weekly 'Good Money' newsletter you can sign up to online, as well as comprehensive Good Money guides to savings, investments, pensions, and others.
Interested in making the switch to a Good Egg?
Find out more about our personal current account.
By inviting external contributions to the Colour of Money our intention is to challenge, provoke debate, stimulate ideas and engage with issues that concern many of us. The views published here are not necessarily those of Triodos Bank.